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What components do you think legitimize a morality or ethical claim?

  • Sentiment and Emotion

    Votes: 3 11.5%
  • Wellbeing and Health

    Votes: 4 15.4%
  • Wisdom and Insight

    Votes: 10 38.5%
  • Standards of Ethos

    Votes: 9 34.6%
  • Motivation and Pathos

    Votes: 4 15.4%
  • Reasonability and Logos

    Votes: 9 34.6%
  • Duty and Obedience

    Votes: 6 23.1%
  • Eudaimonic Virtue

    Votes: 4 15.4%
  • Collectivist Hedonic Pleasure

    Votes: 3 11.5%
  • Consequences and Pragmatic Benefit

    Votes: 13 50.0%
  • Departing the animal towards the spiritual

    Votes: 3 11.5%
  • Altruism and being your brother's keeper

    Votes: 5 19.2%
  • Other (Describe)

    Votes: 5 19.2%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Poll time.

What components do you think legitimizes if a claim (or personal variation) to morality stands or does not stand?

Multiple choice so we can get a nice net trend.
 

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I say 'other' because I think morality is crap. Morality, as I and most have come to understand it, is a cultural standard for approval of an action. This means that it doesn't tell you if an action is good or bad, only if it is right in the community you happen to be in.
I prefer to say an action is 'great, poor or mediocre' though these could also be seen as unusable. I prefer them because while Hitler was an 'evil' man he was a 'great' one and some of his strategies can be copied and used to benefit a group. Another example is a local priest; a 'good' man but perhaps only a 'mediocre' one and so unable to teach much worth learning.
 

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Morality is entirely subjective and open to bias and misinterpretation. For every evil deed/person, a claim could be made that they are good. With no universally accepted standard for good/evil, right/wrong, the only conclusion is that either all claims to morality are legitimate or that none of them are.

Continuing the Hitler theme (that didn't take long, only 2 posts until someone brought him up :p ) I could easily make a moral argument in favour of the Holocaust. It wouldn't be a popular claim, but does that mean it's not legitimate?
 

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Morality is entirely subjective and open to bias and misinterpretation. For every evil deed/person, a claim could be made that they are good. With no universally accepted standard for good/evil, right/wrong, the only conclusion is that either all claims to morality are legitimate or that none of them are. Continuing the Hitler theme (that didn't take long, only 2 posts until someone brought him up :p ) I could easily make a moral argument in favour of the Holocaust. It wouldn't be a popular claim, but does that mean it's not legitimate?
Morality claims are legitimately invalid when they are/can be invalidated within the framework of the individuals morality. (as a simplistic example, if all killing is wrong (with no qualifiers or variables permitted) then killing in self defense is not justifyable)
 

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Morality claims are legitimately invalid when they are/can be invalidated within the framework of the individuals morality. (as a simplistic example, if all killing is wrong (with no qualifiers or variables permitted) then killing in self defense is not justifyable)
You're conflating two different issues here. Whether a claim is legitimate is different from whether it is right or wrong.

Determining the "rightness" of a claim is messy and subjective and where we get into scenarios like the one you outlined. Determining its legitimacy is quite straightforward. We only have two choices. Either:

1) All claims are legitimate because there is no absolute and universal system in place, or
2) No claims are legitimate because without a universal and absolute standard, morality is irrelevant.
 

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I don't think what Hitler done was morally wrong, I wouldn't mind killing him much though, just my preference, I don't like what he orchestrated and killing feeds my needs :D.

I like this for moral:

"Do whatever you want now. But if you disturb me, I'll kill you." :wink:
 

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2) No claims are legitimate because without a universal and absolute standard, morality is irrelevant.
I believe in this because you can't say an act is good in one spot but bad in another and still claim for morality to be legitimate. If a simple change of location is all it takes to change right and wrong then they don't matter any way.
 

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Morals are an internal set of values that are entirely subjective.
Ethics are an external set of social governance that are entirely objective.

Absolute subjectivity makes every issue a sticky mess of emotional invested claims.
Absolute objectivity makes every issue a sweeping judgment without regard for individual claims.

Morals without ethics is a doctor who takes organs from healthy people to give to his dying patients.
Ethics without morals is the sex offender registry, where drunk urination in a park is equivalent to rape and sexual assault.

Both are necessary for legitimacy.
 

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Holy shit. I suppose people here are still young and figuring these things out, but even so, anyone ever think of picking up a book and seriously investigating (their own) ideas on morality?

Nobody espousing virtue ethics, the majority supporting utilitarianism, and others who think that morality is bogus. Damn.

You're conflating two different issues here. Whether a claim is legitimate is different from whether it is right or wrong.

Determining the "rightness" of a claim is messy and subjective and where we get into scenarios like the one you outlined. Determining its legitimacy is quite straightforward. We only have two choices. Either:

1) All claims are legitimate because there is no absolute and universal system in place, or
2) No claims are legitimate because without a universal and absolute standard, morality is irrelevant.

Both of these presuppose that absolute moral claims are void. What about "3) Some claims are legitimate because there exists an absolute and universal moral framework which has been violated"? Your description of the legitimacy of moral claims is akin to someone saying that because a bunch of 4 year olds can only guess at the answer of sums, there is no legitimate claim to the answer of 2+2. Actually there is an answer which relies on a framework, but the kids haven't learnt how to use that framework yet. Just because many people who have never studied morality or seriously questioned their own beliefs go around making claims doesn't mean that morality is necessarily a subjective enterprise.


I strongly suggest that most people here should go and do some reading on morality. Perhaps begin with googling the trolley problem, then move on to Ethics: A very short introduction, and from there read some entries on ethics/morality topics in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online.

Also, OP, those options lead to huge bias because of leading questions, in the sense that everyone understands "Consequences and Pragmatic Benefits" but who apart from philosophers of morality are going to know what "Eudaimonic Virtue" means exactly? Skewed questions, skewed results.
 

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Moral relativist here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Holy shit. I suppose people here are still young and figuring these things out, but even so, anyone ever think of picking up a book and seriously investigating (their own) ideas on morality?

Nobody espousing virtue ethics, the majority supporting utilitarianism, and others who think that morality is bogus. Damn.
Can you expand on this?
 

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Can you expand on this?
Sure. I was taken aback by what I saw (and previously mentioned): nobody espoused virtue ethics, most people supported some kind of utilitarianism, and a lot of the people responding by text rather than poll suggested they thought moral claims were bogus altogether. This caught me off-guard because of the people I associate with, absolutely nobody thinks moral claims are void (this would to me suggest some kind of psycopathy/sociapathy) and no-one is utilitarian (I think even the most elementary excursion into ethics reveals that utilitarianism breaks down at a fairly fundamental, intuitive level, which is why I suggested people google the trolley problem). Quite a few people I know from day-to-day life believe in duty based ethics (e.g. categorical imperatives), but probably most of the people I know who seriously engage with the subject are virtue ethicists. This is probably because the utilitarian modus operandi seems sketchy to most people's intuitions when scrutinised (of course there are some hardcore utilitarians who won't budge, but even so, most people are swayed by elementary arguments), and deontological (duty, categorical imperative) ethics break down at the point of ascribing normative rules to the system. For example, according to the best known formulation of the categorical imperative, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law", it is too narrow or too broad to truly state anything. It is simple for me to say "I will rob this bank, under the stipulation that, at the same time, I will that it should become a universal law that everybody wielding the moniker 'emptyX' should rob banks at 04:51pm Greenwich Mean Time on Sunday the 25th of August 2013." Ascribing rules becomes difficult in any kind of deontological system. So neither utilitarianism nor duty-based ethics appear to cohere, so people turn to virtue based ethics, which are at least consistent. That's pretty much all I meant to say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sure. I was taken aback by what I saw (and previously mentioned): nobody espoused virtue ethics, most people supported some kind of utilitarianism, and a lot of the people responding by text rather than poll suggested they thought moral claims were bogus altogether. This caught me off-guard because of the people I associate with, absolutely nobody thinks moral claims are void (this would to me suggest some kind of psycopathy/sociapathy) and no-one is utilitarian (I think even the most elementary excursion into ethics reveals that utilitarianism breaks down at a fairly fundamental, intuitive level, which is why I suggested people google the trolley problem). Quite a few people I know from day-to-day life believe in duty based ethics (e.g. categorical imperatives), but probably most of the people I know who seriously engage with the subject are virtue ethicists. This is probably because the utilitarian modus operandi seems sketchy to most people's intuitions when scrutinised (of course there are some hardcore utilitarians who won't budge, but even so, most people are swayed by elementary arguments), and deontological (duty, categorical imperative) ethics break down at the point of ascribing normative rules to the system. For example, according to the best known formulation of the categorical imperative, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law", it is too narrow or too broad to truly state anything. It is simple for me to say "I will rob this bank, under the stipulation that, at the same time, I will that it should become a universal law that everybody wielding the moniker 'emptyX' should rob banks at 04:51pm Greenwich Mean Time on Sunday the 25th of August 2013." Ascribing rules becomes difficult in any kind of deontological system. So neither utilitarianism nor duty-based ethics appear to cohere, so people turn to virtue based ethics, which are at least consistent. That's pretty much all I meant to say.
I prefer virtue ethics, yet I didn't raise them in discussion. I don't see why people who support them need to voice their support in order to be a supporter. Ergo I don't see why our presence in discussion should reflect presence in effect if others have taken a similar route to myself.

If morality and ethics are socially derived and independent of pragmatic rather than dogmatic actual benefit, and are upheld by irrational conviction, they are irrelevant to sound management of life. And arguably irrelevant to everything except groundless conviction.

If they bring actual benefit, only reason will reveal that rather than emotional or social conviction.

If morality wars against reason, it is a joke. Every claim of being applicable to the world we live in is a statement of faith, not a carefully examined argument.

And yet if you employ reason in an discussion about morality, too easily you are decried as evil, as unsentimental and thus inhumane, as distant instead of properly zealous, as immoral in the use of mind rather than heart, as inexperienced and arrogant as the only truth that people are convinced of is the irrational and untested vague convictions that have been ingrained within them by their perceptions of justice, without actually examining if they have employed justice in determining those convictions.

So we get people attacking others for the sake of morality based on how tough the accused look and how weak the apparent victim looks, regardless of evidence and reason. We get moral conviction and confidence overriding reason. Society knows better than the facts, society knows you better than needing reason to be employed to make sure the innocent are not condemned.

Depending on the social trends, the winsome are exempt from scrutiny while the unfamiliar is condemned. What you do is irrelevant as facts and motivations ascribed to you are invented. In practice, people don't give a damn about morality, they just want to think of themselves as going good and being respected as such, thus morality is absurd.

And we get idiocy such as mobs thinking that morality is there to serve their interests. Which isn't strictly true, if you examine it. Then they act like anything they do is moral and any perceived threats to them is an evil, building upon their convenient error. Ergo morality is a social dogma and a joke in such circumstances.

Or we get idiocy where people NEED TO DO GOOD. Screw making sure your good doesn't entail bringing about evil, if there is an opportunity to do good it is your moral duty to do it regardless of the means. Because ends. BECAUSE ENDS. You can screw people over, cheat them, guilt trip them, play the self-righteous card to maintain your rep and then when you fail blame the world because if only you had success you would have been justified. Completely assured that they were not too incompetent to ever pull a successful end off in the first place. Or that their end was ever actually achievable. Idiocy.

And we get my favorite. People who talk morality and don't practice the things they speak of consistently. The ultimate moral joke. The oldest moral joke. The argument from an illusion of righteousness - you need to be worthy of us or you are the evil or the risk. Morality as a convenient vehicle to relational politics.

What is good? What is bad?

What makes your word any good to me? Just talk? Action? Action under real pressure?

Who assumes themselves to be moral and worthy, and why? Is morality just a position of privilege over others - to be too good to be distrusted? Too righteous to be faulted? Too secure to be judged or disrespected, and yet afford them that very position? Perhaps even to the point as being used as a reliable means of living and influencing others?

How convenient. I'm sure it doesn't attract cowards in droves.

I stand back and look at morality. Do I need it?

It adds nothing that common sense, wisdom, love (enduring good will, not some emotional high like an intoxicating infatuation) and prudence offer. It attacks reason, and thus detracts from sound management of ones' responsibilities, unlike those mentioned before it.

The people who uphold it are not the sort of person I want to become. They cause such needless harm upon others.

I have lost faith in morality because I see 'moral' people.

And I see morality is absurd.

I haven't even gone into parents who abuse their children because they don't realize that autism is something that needs to be rationally understood rather than morally condemned, righteous people turned rapists, people who distort religious laws to control others to even the point where their God can't live up to their distorted view of good, and people who are eager to punish others to the point where innocence just gets in the way.

Morality doesn't curb animals, fear does. Each of those moral people would have been too scared to act against those who didn't seem vulnerable, thus suggesting they knew better. Otherwise they would have been more open about devouring each other, presumably.

Utilitarianism doesn't oppose reason. Thus the watchmen are rationally accountable. It is an ugly morality, but arguably it is one of the least ugly ones in practice. (Common, sensible, well-developed decency somewhat ironically excluded.) You need a good reason to do anything, it isn't merely this provides benefit but that all things considered this has a high certainty of helping the most people. And given how stupid people are, this muzzle keeps them from most actions and thus most evils.

But that isn't really the best part. I haven't met people who practice utilitarianism where they think of themselves as good people. They aren't simplistic hedonists, and they aren't reckless. They are reasonable. They look at moral actions around them and ask does it REALLY help people or does it satisfy some metaphysical dogma or worthiness created by people of questionable worthiness?

What makes a person worthy? Not evidence and reason? We are guilty upon socially approved dogma and untested convictions to see if it even describes to real people or achieves what it promises? That is nonsensical. Worthy of what? The product of effective means and self-control and reasonable cooperation? You get to deprive us and be more worthy than us why? Because of conviction? Or weight of numbers? Or socially derived metaphysics of morality? Faith that your beliefs represent reality?

At the end of the day, if you aren't making sense I can't really support you. If you make sense but are doing harm to others I cannot bring myself to do, I can't really support you. I don't want to share in your convictions. Your victims lay bleeding.

That isn't to say I haven't met people who have really helped others. But that took courage, morality in practice rather than speech. When it personally costs them. I can respect that. I can support that.

But I can't support the absurd.

As for virtue ethics? Prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude? They are tempered by reason, and aim towards life wisely spent and the joy that naturally brings.

I don't see it as creating moral people but it seems like a relatively sensible course of development.

There is more to life than utilitarianism. Morally more to life. Some of which I find to be very beautiful.
 

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Holy shit. I suppose people here are still young and figuring these things out, but even so, anyone ever think of picking up a book and seriously investigating (their own) ideas on morality?
I've read quite a bit. Most writers try to show how their view of something that they personally find repugnant is wrong and must be wrong because they say so or whatever stupid reason they think justify it.

Obviously my teachers would disagree with this...
 

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Sure. I was taken aback by what I saw (and previously mentioned): nobody espoused virtue ethics, most people supported some kind of utilitarianism, and a lot of the people responding by text rather than poll suggested they thought moral claims were bogus altogether. This caught me off-guard because of the people I associate with, absolutely nobody thinks moral claims are void (this would to me suggest some kind of psycopathy/sociapathy)
I wouldn't probably say this in person to person as most people that don't know me well would think I was a psychopath (even though they have "morals", not that they will follow, but don't stop from thinking god is unfair and that kind of stuff).

and no-one is utilitarian (I think even the most elementary excursion into ethics reveals that utilitarianism breaks down at a fairly fundamental, intuitive level, which is why I suggested people google the trolley problem)
A utilitarian view asserts that it is obligatory to steer to the track with one man on it.
Not really broken...

A more interesting problem would be would you kill one thousand people now to save 10 thousand people over the next thousand years?
 

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Since, as a whole, human beings are incapable of being moral by most reasonable standards set forth by humans... Maybe the question should be can humans ever put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. I actually think Nietzsche spoke more to the human condition than anyone else. I mean, seriously, what has anyone's high ideals done overall for the world?

So to that end I would suggest the most moral system would be one in which no one's personal autonomy is infringed upon. Basically, the your fist stops an inch before my face rule set. Unfortunately, power structures make it truly impossible to live in such an equitable place.

Let's look at it in the form of a game some may be familiar with (Mass Effect 3):
1. Destroy all synthetics to protect all organics (short term solution)
2. Control the Reapers
3. Synthesis
4. Lose the war. (And the game btw)

The fourth option is technically the most moral as it doesn't sacrifice anyone's autonomy. From a utilitarian perspective, Synthesis saves the most people but all of them are irrevocably changed against their will. Controlling the Reapers sacrifices yourself (a perfectly moral/ethical action) and yet turns around and controls what are clearly sentient beings. And obviously if you destroy the Reapers you also kill all synthetics, yes even good ones like EDI or the Geth you can turn to your side. Then again, if you choose not to do any of those things, you still effect everyone negatively because they get harvested and turned into Reapers.

Know what? This is just the reason why the basics of morality are all either too categorical or entirely useless for the larger scheme of things.
 
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